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How to make chicken feet broth (and a life out of farming)

Nov 26, 2014 /
How to make chicken foot broth

Courtney Grimes-Sutton and Asa Thomas-Train of Mace Chasm Farm explain how to make chicken feet broth — and discuss the joys and pains of farming. A film from ideas.ted.com.

[vimeo 112730406 w=500 h=281]

Chicken Feet Broth Recipe

Prep time 20 minutes                                                        Cook time 4-12 hours

Chicken feet make for a rich, gelatinous broth — one particularly full of the nutrients that we crave in chicken soup (collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin). Feel free to throw in bones as well.

Where can you get chicken feet? They are growing in popularity, along with organ meats, and some farmers report selling out when they go to market. However, many butcher shops are still happy to give them away.

Two pounds of chicken feet will produce about a gallon of very gelatinous stock.


2 pounds chicken feet (white or yellow)

2 large onions, chopped

4 bulbs garlic, chopped

3 whole star anise pods

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (plus more for cleaning the chicken feet)

Optional: other herbs, more garlic, or vegetables for flavor — carrots, leeks, celery, parsnips

Preparing the Feet

To peel or not to peel?

Chicken feet usually come with the outer yellow skin removed, since the same scalding process that removes the feathers also removes the outer skin on the feet.   If the feet come skin on, you can simply clean them, or you can remove the skin.

To clean only: soak in a water-vinegar mix for 5-10 minutes and then rinse in water.

To peel: scald the feet in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. If you boil them for too long, the skin will stick to the muscle. Dump them in a pan of ice cold water. Peel. Note: it’s easier to peel when they are slightly warm, so you may want to scald them in small batches of 3-5.

To trim or not to trim?

No need to trim, as the nails are made of the same material as the rest of the chicken. When you strain the broth with a cheesecloth or fine sieve, any remaining bits of nails should be caught. If you choose to trim, cut at the first knuckle.

Cooking the Broth

Put the chicken feet in a soup pot. Add all the ingredients (except vinegar) and fill the pot with water. Then add the vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer without a lid for about 4 hours to reduce the broth. Add more water as necessary to keep the feet submerged. During the simmering process, the heat should be low enough that the bubbles barely appear. Occasionally skim the “scum” as it rises to the top.

Simmer time is usually between 4-10 hours but is very flexible.

The stock should reduce by at least a third. When done, strain the solids from the broth using a cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve.

Bottle the stock and store in fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze in plastic bags or containers for up to 6 months.

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